Strategies for grassroots control of international aid

Diana Mitlin, David Satterthwaite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Official aid agencies and development banks are not set up to work with poor groups or to be directly accountable to them, even if their work is legitimized on the basis of these groups' needs. The bureaucracy of such agencies works primarily with and through national governments and is generally unable to catalyze or support the local social processes needed to make external finance effective in addressing many aspects of poverty. This paper describes an initiative to overcome these constraints - an international fund to support grassroots initiatives, managed by a transnational network of slum/shack/homeless people's federations and their support NGOs. This fund makes small grants available to savings groups that are members of these federations, to support them in securing land for housing and getting basic services. Over the last five years, more than 40 initiatives in 17 nations have received support. The fund demonstrates to international agencies what their monies could do if they were willing to relinquish more decision-making powers and more financial control to local organizations formed by and accountable to the urban poor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-500
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironment and Urbanization
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2007


  • Aid
  • Empowerment
  • Grassroots
  • Urban poor

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global inequalities
  • Global Development Institute


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